Customer Satisfaction Does Not Suffice Now

“Your customers are only satisfied because their expectations are so low and because no one else is doing better. Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.” – Ken Blanchard

The ‘honeymoon days’ are over for companies and those in customer service. It is true that customer satisfaction does not suffice now, even though it was earlier the standard measurement of customer service in the past. Customers were happy with receiving just about enough service, and would be content with being ‘satisfied’. This has changed now, and customers want more – a lot more.

With the changes in the market landscape, and the fact that customers are lot smarter and well informed, it would seem plausible that their expectations would have changed too. Branded items, customization, and bespoke are the new mantras and have replaced mass produced items that had little or no appeal. The customer of today has a plethora of choices within the same product range, and companies seem to be falling over each other in a bid to gain the attention of the same sets of customers. With the proliferation of so many companies and brands, the only way for each brand to differentiate itself is to improve its customer service, and become a ‘hot favourite’ with customers. Customer satisfaction does not suffice now, simply because it is no longer unique and special – every company has satisfied customers. The ones that have raving fans and brand advocates are the companies of the future.

The world of business has seen rapid change and marked improvements. The speedy development of technology saw the birth of the internet, social media, several online channels, and smart technologies for hand held devices and mobile phones. Information is freely and easily accessible now, which in turn has shifted the balance of power to the customers. Companies have realized that customer satisfaction does not suffice any longer, and hence are doing everything in their power to achieve service excellence, in a bid to please customers and move them to loyalty. Research shows that customers that were reportedly ‘satisfied’ with a company left it for a competitor owing to incrementally better service. Companies are aiming at creating and building intense and robust emotional connections with their customers, such that their customers not only give them repeat business, but also attract more business for them through positive word of mouth.

Customer satisfaction does not suffice now, also because customer expectations and demands are in a state of constant change – owing either to emotional reasons, or due to changes in their business. The new age customers refuse to accept average or even good products and customer service – they want more, better, and expect companies to strive for excellence. It is the job of companies to comply by constantly improving their offerings and service, or risk losing even their best customers. With choices and power, customers have become less tolerant of anything less than the best, and do not hesitate to switch companies if they believe that the company is not trying hard enough to keep their business. If a company realizes that customer satisfaction does not suffice now, and still does not or is unable to ramp up its service and product quality, it would not be surprising if even its’ most loyal and long-standing customers leave. Some well-established brands have seen their customers leave owing to poor service and average product quality.

There is no denying that customer satisfaction does not suffice now, and is certainly not enough to drive growth and sustain profitability. Research shows that in order to retain the bulk of its customers, a company must go beyond customer satisfaction. In the current competitive world, a satisfied customer is not a guarantee long staying customer. Companies have no choice but to raise their standards and strive to achieve service excellence to ensure that satisfied customers turn to loyal ones, who in turn should become the most enthusiastic brand ambassadors of the company.

Given that customer satisfaction does not suffice now, it would be prudent for companies to think of ways to turn the bulk of their customers to raving fans. Companies must be clear about what they want to achieve, why they exist, and what their vision is for customer success. Having clarity on how their offerings and customer service would benefit customers and their business is the first step to achieving the levels that customers expect. Companies must be able to identify clearly, who their best and most profitable customers are, and what needs to be done in order to keep them delighted such that they stay with the company and remain profitable. Without an understanding of who the best customers are, it would be difficult for a company to provide bespoke products, tailor-made solutions, and give them focused attention – all critical to customer retention, especially with regard to these highly beneficial customers.

A company must have its vision for customers clearly set out. It is important for a company to know where it should invest its resources, in order to achieve service excellence, which in turn would lead to customer delight. It would be prudent to invest in a team dedicated to researching and understanding the needs and expectations of target customers, find out which channels and touch-points are most critical for these customers, what their pain areas would be, and how the company can become the go to ‘partner’ for these customers. Making the effort to understand customers in such detail would lead to an emotional bond and connection, which would mean that customers would stay and remain profitable. Since customer satisfaction does not suffice now, it has become imperative for companies to know exactly what would be required to alleviate the pain points for customers, and where and how they can help customers to become successful.

We have discussed several times that the best of products and service would be of no value if the company remains inconsistent in its approach. Lack of consistency is one of the top reasons for driving customers away, but it must be remembered that consistent average service and products too would turn customers to competition. The fact is that customer satisfaction does not suffice now, and it is the responsibility and need for every company to create experiences that are pleasant and memorable for customers. Companies must consistently strive to be distinct and unique, giving them reason to remain pleased and more than satisfied with the company. Every step of the customer’s ‘journey’ must be one that they would cherish and want to come back to the company repeatedly.

Customer satisfaction does not suffice now – loyalty sticks, and makes customers want to stay even if they have to pay slightly more for the services and products of the company. Loyal customers tend to give more the business association than only money. They put in time and effort to ensure that the company succeeds, gains more customers, and is able to increase its reach to a much wider audience. They do not hesitate to tell their friends, family, and business associates about their pleasant experiences, and in fact would encourage them to engage in business with their ‘favoured’ company. Merely satisfied customers would take the benefits from a company for as long as they find one that gives them more. Aiming for customer satisfaction means aiming way too low – raise standards of your company and customer service.

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